Recent History – 2002-2003
By Mark Nielsen, Daily News Staff
Tembec is the new owner of the Chetwynd pulp mill.
The company, based in Temiscaming, Quebec, announced the acquisition Monday, purchasing the plant from Louisiana-Pacific “for a nominal amount.”
Chetwynd mayor Charlie Lasser welcomed the news.
“It’s just wonderful. It’s going to be a great thing,” he said.
Rated at 160,000 tonnes of capacity per year, the mill has been idle since April 2001. Tembec will spend about $20 million in process and equipment modifications and expects to restart the mill by January 2003.
Lasser said it appears that some work has already begun at the mill.
“Already, I understand, people are starting to work because they have to get the steam lines all going and get the plant up and running,” he said.
About 180 people work in the mill and another 120 have jobs associated with the mill. Tembec said in a news release that employees have shown their support by ratifying a new seven-year collective agreement.
The impact of the closure on the local economy was softened by the jobs generated by construction of the Koehn gas plant and employees getting a month’s pay for every year they had worked at the pulp mill.
“Some of the employees that were there for 10 years, they still got a paycheque every month for 10 months, so some of them are still receiving a paycheque as if they were still working,” Lasser said. “So it didn’t hurt that bad in a lot of cases.”
Word that Tembec would be buying the plant had been out for some time, but matters like referrals to government agencies delayed the date of the official announcement.
Sale of the mill was part of Louisiana-Pacific’s plan to shed assets peripheral to its core focus — facilities that produce oriented strandboard, composite wood products, engineered wood products and plastic building products such as vinyl siding, composite decking and mouldings.
In contrast, Tembec is one of the world’s largest market pulp producers. The acquisition will raise total capacity to about 2.4 million tonnes, including 300,000 tonnes produced via joint ventures.
“This mill is an excellent fit with our existing high yield pulp assets and will provide significant synergies with our Temiscaming and Matane operations,” said Tembec Pulp and Paper Group president Terrence Kavanagh in a news release.
“The acquisition confirms Tembec as the global leader in the growing high yield hardwood market pulp sector with more than 700,000 tonnes of capacity.”